We hung a suet feeder in the tree outside the front windows in hopes of attracting more birds. Of course the neighborhood squirrel was interested and was perched on the branch checking it out. When we went to shoo him away he just looked at us. He seemed to know we were not a threat behind the glass. We banged and yelled and he just looked at us as if to say “neener neener neener! you can’t get me!”

Shot through the window with the Sony 100mm macro lens.

Minolta AF 500/8 Reflex

I was asked by my co-worker/friend David if I would accompany him to the crack house Camera Exchange. He had decided to purchase a digital camera and wanted my “expertise” as he entered this new and exciting realm of photography. Not being one to turn down a chance to go look at the pretty pretty camera equipment I agreed to tag along.

I introduced him to my favorite dealer sales guy and proceeded to have a look in the used equipment case. Usually they don’t have much for the Sony/Minolta platform but on this day as David and Charlie discussed the Nikon D90 and some lenses, there was a sparkling gem of used Minolta goodness.

A Minolta AF 500/8 Reflex lens and available for a very reasonable price.

I’d read a bit about this lens and it’s a remarkable piece of glass for what it is and for the price. Whereas the average 500mm reflex lens tends to be a manual focus, the Minolta/Sony 500mm Reflex lens is the only production mirror lens designed to auto focus with an SLR camera.

Very light and very compact it’s easy to carry around. Since it shoots at a constant F/8 aperture it is not a low-light performer, but @ 500mm it will literally reach out and touch someone. The re-tooled Sony version runs twice as much as what you can pic up this older Minolta version for on the secondary market and this one was priced well below even that so it was a good bargain.

In good light this lens produces good results and gives me more reach in my birding and wildlife photography. The first few test shots are quite encouraging. All of these images are un-cropped and only resized to be more reasonable for web viewing. Click any image to see a larger version.

It is not super super sharp, but the color and contrast is good. I think it will serve me well.


We went for a walk on Saturday down by the bayou just to get out and get a little excercise. Of course I had the camera in tow. Not a lot of photo opportunities, but Cynthia spotted this guy on a flower no bigger than a pinky fingernail. I’m stiff today from squatting down and trying to hold the camera still as the wind blew my subject to and fro.

It looks very much like a Crane Fly (aka Mosquito Hawk) which we see all the time in and around the house. But this guy is much smaller and has a probiscus rather than mandibles. My guess is he’s either a juvenile Elephant Mosquito or just a plane old male mosquito.

This pic remonds me of the album cover of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds

On a side note, there’s a 30th anniversary tour in the works which (sadly) doesn’t look like it will make it here to the U.S.

This shot was done with a flash from above.

Macro Mothra

Best shot of the day at the Cockrell Butterfly Center was of this moth as I was leaving.

Camera: Sony DSLR-A700
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/9.0
Focal Length: 100 mm
Exposure: 0.00

There was a little daylight shining right on him so I shot with fill flash which allowed me to take advantage of the natural light for the majority of the illumination.

Check it out when we zoom in a little bit.

The detail is phenomenal!

This is a full on, un-resized 100% crop of the original image:

If you are interested in seeing the full sized image in all of it’s 6.2 megabyte, 4272 x 2848 glory you can download it here:

It’s pretty amazing and worth checking out.

Sony SAL-70300G – A Modest Review

I don’t claim to be a photography expert. I am self taught through personal experience and what I have been able to glean from various web resources and other photographers. I choose Sony over CaNikon for various reason which I won’t go into in this post. That being said, I am not a reviewer who cares to detail the technical aspects of the equipment I use in a the formal way you see at sites like Photozone where the reviewer gets into detail about distortion, light fall off, vignetting, chromatic aberrations and so forth. I leave that to the experts. Besides, why duplicate what is already there?

What I like to do is share my own personal experience as a fan of the platform and show real world examples in the hopes that others interested in this platform will benefit.

As I have mentioned before, the Sony SAL-70300G lens comes highly recommended from my fellow Sony/Minolta users and is a quality piece of glass.

I was finally able to take my own personal copy for a real test drive. Mounted on the A700 (even without a vertical grip) it is well balanced and it’s easy to use hand-held for reasonable amounts of time.

I had Tuesday off so I went to The Cockrell Butterfly Center. This was Cynthia’s suggestion as a place to try out the new macro lens but I figured I could also take the SAL-70300G along as well to see how it performed.

Click above image for larger version
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 250mm
On-board flash

I am not a huge fan of shooting with a flash, but as you can see the detail is amazing and the color vivid and true.

Next I wanted to shoot without a flash. Personally, I find the colors and saturation much more appealing in available light and truth be told, I am a high speed elitist when it comes to lenses. I like f/2.8 or faster and the SAL-70300G is only f/4.5-5.6 making it unsuitable for low-light situations.

Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 300mm
No Flash

Fully extended to 300mm at 1/60th of a second. BEAUTIFUL! And thank you Sony for the built in image stabilization or your camera bodies. I jokingly refer to myself as Mr. Shaky McShakerson as I don’t have the steadiest of hands and that can be a real problem shooting hand-held at this focal length in less than optimal light.

Fast focus and SSM makes the the lens practically silent.

I have no buyers remorse at all. This lens does what it is designed to do and it does it extremely well. The 70-300mm focal range is a change for me, personally. But it is proving to be a fantastic and fun addition to my lens arsenal. I anticipate I will use this lens quite a lot in my daytime shooting and am even now working out the packing details in my brain for our upcoming trip.

Additional examples are in my Sony 70-300mm G gallery which I will be adding to as time goes on.